A teacher spends the majority of their time up and away from the desk. It is easy for the teacher’s desk to fall to the back burner because there are so many other essential things to do. However, getting rid of the classroom clutter that builds up is important in creating a safe, welcoming, and organized space for learning. In this post, I am sharing simple teacher desk organization ideas to keep your desk organized.
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My husband and I recently binged The Crown. We were pretty late to the game but once we got started, we couldn’t stop.
I was fascinated by so many things- the workings of the British government, what does she carry in that freaking little purse of hers, and how organized her desk always was.
You’d think being the sovereign would be a little more challenging than being a teacher and that she’d constantly have Very Important Papers covering it.
Yet the Queen’s desk was always so organized.
Now, I get it’s a TV show and all that good stuff. AND that she is the Queen so probably someone is organizing it for her.
What does this have to do with teacher desk organization ideas?!?! Well…it got me thinking…why is it such a challenge to keep our teacher desks organized?
Some of the biggest issues with keeping the teacher desk organized are:
- papers piling up
- student’s stuff
- no time to put the stuff away
- drawers get disorganized
In this post I’m sharing a few teacher desk organization ideas that will keep it clutter free throughout the day.
Should I have a teacher desk?
If you have a disorganized and clutter classroom, it might be tempting to think getting rid of your teacher desk might be the solution.
Unfortunately, getting rid of pieces of furniture isn’t going to help your classroom feel less cluttered or more organized.
You can get rid of your teacher’s desk but the problem, likely, remains that you do not have organization routines in place to ensure your classroom stays organized.
In the free 5-day classroom organization challenge I walk you through how to organize different areas of your classroom. Once you know how to create organization routines in your classroom, you will be able to keep your desk and keep it organized!
But what’s my stance on keeping or getting rid of your teacher desk? I have a pretty firm answer to this.
I think yes, every teacher should have a desk that is their own.
YOU are an important part of the classroom and you need a space to work, grade, even just sit and scroll Instagram for a few minutes.
One issue I see in the education community is the idea to “always put kids first.” That mentality leads to teacher burnout.
Choosing to get rid of the desk so your kids have more space is another way teachers are choosing to put kids first.
If you are on the fence, this post shares some valid reasons for saying adios to the teacher desk. And I have to say, I see a lot of the points they are making.
If you are trying to keep all your stuff organized without a teacher desk, here is a resource to help.
But I stand firmly on the side of having a space in your classroom that is yours. A place where you can work, store items, and plan for engaging lessons.
Let’s talk about how to keep that desk organized!
Teacher Desk Organization Ideas
Before you can keep your teacher desk organized you have to get it organized.
Inside the 6 Steps to Organize Your Teacher Desk Guide, I walk you through the steps you need to organize your teacher desk area.
The following tips are strategies to help you maintain all the work you put into organizing your teacher desk.
Have an Inbox for Materials
Part of the problem with desks getting messy and cluttered is that the desk becomes the dumping ground for anything and everything that needs a “home” throughout the day.
Then, at the end of the day you either aren’t sure where to put things or are too tired to put them away so they stay.
Instead, find a small tray (like this one) to leave on one corner of your desk. Everything goes in this tray throughout the day.
Use Trays to Organize Papers
There are SO many papers you have to deal with throughout the day.
Inside the Classroom Paper Organization Course I teach you how to identify the themes of papers that are coming in and out of your classroom on a daily basis.
Once you have identified the two to three most frequent types of papers, use paper trays to sort those papers. These are the trays I used in my classroom.
***Hint: instead of storing these trays on your desk, put them inside of a cabinet!***
Clear off the Top of the Desk
As much as you can, try to keep the desk pretty cleared off. Instead of displaying your personal mementos on your desk, can you devote a shelf on a bookcase to displaying them?
Keep your teacher’s desk as empty as possible. Here is what I kept on my teacher desk:
- Document Camera (this is the one I recommend + great reviews and free shipping!)
- Magazine box for example journals (can’t find my exact one so here’s what I’d get instead.)
- Caddy to organize markers, pens, and other trinkets (here’s one I recommend)
- Sticks to select students
- 2 personal items (team picture and lavender bouquet)
- Sticky note dispenser, stapler, and tape (I used these allll day long so it was worth keeping them out)
You can see in the picture below, I kept my desk relatively cleared off. This is out it looked throughout the day as well.
Leave it Clean Each Day
The most important thing you should do is ensure you leave each day with your desk cleared off. There are a lot of (psychological) benefits to having a cleaned off desk.
But my favorite benefit of a cleared off desk is walking into a tidy room the next morning.
Part of my end of day routine for keeping a clutter-free classroom was a 5 minute cleanup of my teacher desk and small group teaching table.
I also pushed in my chair and turned off my monitor. These might seem like small, simple things. But they make a big impact.
Imagine walking into your classroom the next morning and seeing a desk covered with papers, emails coming in, and your chair swiviled about.
Now, instead, imagine coming in and seeing everything neat and orderly.
Walking into a fresh and organized classroom is always going to give you a better start to the day!
During this end of day routine, you can also clean out that “inbox” full of stuff you’ve collected throughout the day.
Keep the Drawers Organized with Dividers
The last tip is to not let your drawers become a junk space for random things.
You should have one junk space in your classroom…a “free for all” if you will. But only one!
Your desk drawers should not be it. Instead, use desk dividers to keep items inside your desk contained and organized. (Here are some similar to mine.)
When I teach about organizing classroom cabinets, I talk about giving each cabinet and shelf a theme.
The same strategy can apply to your drawers.
For example, my desk had two drawers.
The top drawer was supplies (paperclips, rubber bands, etc.).
The bottom drawer was where I stored my First Aid supplies and nurses notes.
In the set of plastic drawers underneath my desk I followed the same strategy.
- Top drawer- Back stock of teacher supplies
- Middle drawer- personal things (hairbrush, toothbrush, feminine products, etc.)
- Bottom drawer- Extra sticky notes, small notepads, and magnets (lol I don’t know why magnets were in there!)
Organize Your Teacher Desk
Get your teacher’s desk organized in as little as thirty minutes with this step-by-step guide.
In the guide I share pictures, tips, additional resources, and walk you through the steps of cleaning out, cleaning up, organizing, and reassembling your teacher desk.
I don’t know about you but my teacher desk was an unintentional focal point of the classroom. It was directly across from the door so you immediately saw it when you walked in.
Plus, a computer sitting on top of it just kind of draws your eye there.
Take away some of the classroom clutter by ensuring your desk is organized. Follow these steps to make sure it stays organized throughout the day:
- Get your desk organized with this guide
- Utilize an inbox to hold things throughout the day (like this one!)
- Invest in plastic trays to store papers (these are the ones I recommend)
- Keep the top of the desk cleared off
- Include a “desk clear off” in your end of day routine (more routines for decluttering are here!)
- Assign drawers “themes” and use dividers (like these)
Here is a quick recap of all the links shared in this post:
- 5 Strategies to Stay Organized as a Teacher
- 5 Day Classroom Organization Challenge
- Teacher Self Care and What Happens When We Ignore It
- 6 Steps to Organize Your Teacher Desk Guide
- Classroom Paper Organization Course
- 8 Practical Ways to Clear Classroom Clutter
- 51 Things to Get Rid of in Your Classroom (probably a lot of these are on your desk right now!)
Until next time,
If you found this post helpful, then Pin it to refer back to later or to share with another teacher!